Jonah Hill in Superbad

Jonah Hill as Seth in Superbad (2007)


Jonah Hill as Seth, crude high school senior

Clark County, Spring 2006

Film: Superbad
Release Date: August 17, 2007
Director: Greg Mottola
Costume Designer: Debra McGuire

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!


Yesterday marked exactly 16 years since my high school graduation. Early June always awakens my nostalgia for the last days of school, when the excitement of summer ahead was made even more thrilling my senior year when I was just months away from entering college.

Superbad was released two months after I graduated during this significant summer, so it always held a significant place in my moviegoing heart for as much as I could—for better or worse—relate to its protagonists, Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), during their final weeks of high school as lame-duck seniors.

The movie was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, loosely based on their own experiences as teens in Vancouver during the late ’90s, with added cinematic inspiration by way of American GraffitiDazed and Confused, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. By the time Superbad actually made it to the production phase in the mid-2000s, Rogen was a familiar face due to roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but he had aged out of convincingly playing a high school student, providing the opportunity for Jonah Hill’s breakout performance as Seth, the brash teen inspired by Rogen himself.

Superbad centers around one night toward the end of the school year, as the decidedly uncool Seth and Evan—and their even less cool friend, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)—scheme to consummate attractions to their respective crushes, planning to ingratiate themselves to the girls by providing liquor for an end-of-the-year party. The quest for teens to lose their virginity is hardly a new concept for coming-of-age cinema (ever heard of Porky’s?), but Superbad adds a fresh perspective as the trio navigate obstacles including blatantly fake IDs, aggressive adults, and getting “fucked by the long dick of the law” as exemplified by Rogen and Bill Hader as a pair of hapless cops… or maybe I just have a soft spot for a movie that deconstructed pre-college anxieties while I was going through the same thing.

What’d He Wear?

Nobody’s gotten a handjob in cargo shorts since ‘Nam!

Seth complains of needing some new clothes for that night’s party that they were unexpectedly invited to, particularly after he agreed to provide booze for his crush Jules (Emma Stone). Unable to return home, lest his parents discover his car was towed for parking in the teachers’ lot, Seth raids Evan’s dad’s closet for a party outfit consistent with the movie’s overarching funky ’70s vibe. (Though there does seem to be some inconsistency with Seth thinking his disco decade duds will lead to more romantic success than wearing cargo shorts.)

Jonah Hill and Michael Cera in Superbad (2007)

While Evan sticks with his established palette of brown-toned polo and trousers, Seth embraces some retro western flair for his party-going outfit.

“That’s him, Johnny Cash,” someone describes Seth at Mark’s party, referring to his dark (but not black!) western-styled shirt. The shirt was custom-made for the production in the tradition of the opulent western shirts worn by singing cowboys of the 1940s like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Bob Wills. Though there’s often variation in how these elements can be presented, the trademarks of a western shirt include snap-style buttons, dual chest pockets, and pointed yokes, with the decorative detailing adding a more distinctive complexity to Seth’s shirt than typically seen.

Seth’s borrowed navy shirt has white piping that follows the edges and seams, including along the large, ’70s-style collar, placket, cuffs, pockets, and yokes. The shirt’s front placket closes with six silver-trimmed pearl snaps up the front, with a traditional button closing at the neck, though Seth typically wears this button and the highest snap undone.

The two chest pockets are the set-in “smile” style, so named for their gently curved opening that splits the jetting as though each side of the shirt is smiling. Each end of the pocket is embroidered with a white arrow point. “This may actually be a carry-over from pant design,” explains Sneum in their nicely illustrated guide to western shirt design.

Jonah Hill as Seth in Superbad (2007)

While many western shirts have cuffs that merely resemble typical barrel-style shirt cuffs but with two or three snaps instead of a button, Seth’s shirt has the more dramatic “shotgun cuff”, consisting of a five-snap closure with all five snaps on a curved tab that extends up the sleeve beyond the banded cuff.

The shotgun cuffs harmonize with the front and back yokes that are more complex than the typical single- or even double-pointed western yoke. The front yokes extend out from each armpit, curving around the respective pocket, dipping back to touch the edge of the pocket, then tapering down toward the placket to intersect and disappear between the third and fourth snaps. The back yoke echoes this profile, extending out from each armpit though arching upwards before dipping straight downward then breaking toward the center for a triangular “tooth” effect.

Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Michael Cera in Superbad (2007)

Fogell/McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) doesn’t do himself any favors in his “Pinocchio” (per Seth) or “Aladdin” (per Evan) vest, even if you could argue it’s more understated than Seth’s western shirt and plaid pants.

Seth layers the western shirt over a light heather gray cotton/polyester crew-neck short-sleeved T-shirt from Jerzees, the wholesale apparel brand known for their affordable and durable clothing often purchased in bulk for sports.

Jonah Hill as Seth in Superbad (2007)

Seth coordinates the ’70s overtones of his outfit with plaid pants made from a large-scaled variation of Prince of Wales check cloth, woven in a black and white glen plaid framed by a blue overcheck. The flat-front trousers are styled like jeans at the top, with the recognizable five-pocket configuration of curved front pockets, an inset coin pocket on the right, and patch-style back pockets, as well as belt loops that go unused. The turn-ups (cuffs) are a departure from the similarity to jeans.

Jonah Hill as Seth in Superbad (2007)

A partygoer at Mark’s house takes regrettable liberties investigating the stain bestowed on Seth’s trousers by his drunk dance partner.

The only part of his own outfit that Seth continues wearing are his blue-and-white Vans Authentic low-top skate sneakers, recognizable by the red Vans “Off the Wall” branded rubber badge on the back of each white rubber outsole. These were the original shoes that originated when Vans was founded in 1966.

The brand grew in popularity through the ’70s, when they introduced their Old-Skool silhouette and “Off the Wall” motto. As a high-schooler in the mid-2000s, I remember the ubiquity of Vans among all social strata in high school (including my own checkerboard pair). They perfectly suit Seth, who demonstrates a retro-minded and somewhat ironic sense of fashion while also not wanting to sartorially stray too far from what would be acceptable among his peers. Nearly sixty years after their inception, Vans Authentic sneakers are still available, via Vans or Amazon.

Seth’s Vans have blue canvas uppers with white contrasting stitching that matches the flat white woven laces, the five sets of white-finished metal eyelets, and the white rubber midsoles. The tan rubber outsoles are treaded with Vans’ signature “waffle” pattern.

Jonah Hill as Seth in Superbad (2007)

The details of Jonah Hill’s screen-worn costume can be closely seen in photos included with the auction listings for one set of screen-worn clothes, a shirt, T-shirt, and trousers that was auctioned in 2013 by Heritage Auctions and then again by Goldin Auctions in the fall of 2020, selling for $7,380.

Jonah Hill as Seth in Superbad (2007)

Jonah Hill as Seth, and one set of his screen-worn “hero” costume, sourced from Goldin Auctions.

Earlier that day, Seth had dressed for school in gray-toned camo cargo shorts and a light blue shadow-plaid short-sleeved button-up shirt worn open over a white T-shirt detailed with a grayscaled portrait of Richard Pryor.

Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Michael Cera in Superbad (2007)

I get Seth’s point about the cargo shorts (even though I wore plenty of them in high school), but I love that—instead of merely swapping out his pants—he went through an entire outfit change into something far less contemporary.

What to Imbibe

Given Superbad‘s plot driven by underage drinking, my non-existent legal team would like to remind all readers to only drink alcoholic beverages if they have reached legal age… and also to not drink beer that has been poured into laundry detergent containers, even if you’re relatively confident that said containers have been properly cleaned out.

“We put a lot of time into this list, so don’t fuck it up and get sambuca again,” Seth instructs Fogell, before it’s determined that Seth himself would be the one tasked with trying to procure the booze for Jules’ party. To avoid any legal repercussions, the Superbad production team appears to have used exclusively fictional labels for all the booze that appears on screen, even if the characters never drink it.

Jonah Hill as Seth in Superbad (2007)

A particular favorite of mine are the Trotsky’s Choice vodka labels, seen in front of Seth’s chest during this imaginary sequence where his quest ends with a slit throat.

Dictated in part by the preferences of the girls they hope to impress at the party, Seth and Evan’s booze list includes ouzo, bourbon, spiced rum, Goldslick, raspberry vodka, Scotch, and a six-pack of Kyle’s Killer Lemonade. From my recollection of partying in high school, spiced rum and raspberry vodka were standards, occasionally bourbon, but almost never Scotch… likely requested by one of Jules’ friends trying to sound sophisticated. I did have friends of Greek heritage who were much more experienced at downing ouzo than my 14-year-old palette had been, but the fact that it shares an anise flavor with sambuca makes me think Fogell wouldn’t have landed them in too much trouble with the group if he repeated his earlier mistake.

As specifically requested by Evan’s crush Becca (Martha MacIssac), “Goldslick” is described as a premium vodka with little gold flakes, almost definitely informed by the real-life brand Goldschläger, an 87-proof cinnamon schnapps produced in Switzerland and characterized by the thin flakes of gold floating through the liqueur.

The “Kyle’s Killer Lemonade” requested by another of Jules’ friends was almost certainly meant to stand in for Mike’s Hard Lemonade, the Pennsylvania-based “alcopop” introduced in 1999.

Jonah Hill as Seth in Superbad (2007)

Bet you had those cargo shorts now, don’t you Seth?

The dominant beer of the Superbad universe is the fictional “Binyon’s”, with a label similar to the the venerated New York City-based Schaefer beer. Coincidentally, Schaefer expanded its brewing operations in 1972 with the construction of the Lehigh Valley Plant in the small eastern Pennsylvania village of Fogelsville… its name evocative of McLovin’s birth name.

Superbad (2007)

The mother lode.

How to Get the Look

Jonah Hill and Michael Cera in Superbad (2007)

Seth understandably recoils at the idea of wearing cargo shorts or an oversized vest to an end of-school party, but he still embraces the retro sensibilities of a distinctively yoked western shirt and plaid pants with his everyday Vans.

  • Navy western-styled shirt with white piping on the curved/pointed front and back yokes, large collar, two “smile” pockets, six-snap front placket, and five-snap “shotgun cuffs”
  • Light heather gray cotton/polyester crew-neck short-sleeve T-shirt
  • Black, white, and blue Prince of Wales check flat-front casual trousers with belt loops, curved front pockets, inset right-side coin pocket, patch-style back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
  • Blue canvas-upper Vans Authentic skate sneakers with white stitching, flat white laces through five white-finished metal eyelets, white rubber midsoles, and tan waffle-tread rubber outsoles

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie.

The Quote

You know how many foods are shaped like dicks? The best kinds.

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